Roll20 and D&D

I’ve mentioned Roll20 in past posts about how my group plays D&D, but I figure it deserves a post all its own.

Roll20 was a Kickstarter project back in 2012. It raised $39,651, well past its goal of $5,000.

Once funded the project team set out to create a free and simple way to play D&D and other roleplaying games online.

They created something that has been dubbed a virtual tabletop (VTT). D&D is normally played at a table, so when you play online everyone sits at their computers around the virtual tabletop.

What does that actually mean though?

First, Roll20 transmits your voice, video, and any typed messages you want to the other people you’re playing with. Continue reading

Quantum Roll

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I mentioned that my group uses Roll20 to play D&D.

Roll20 started as a Kickstarter. They got successfully funded and released the beta to the backers before releasing the official version to everyone a bit later.

The folks who make Roll20 have a payment system common to most internet businesses.

The program is free to use if you’d like, but you can also pay a monthly or yearly fee to get access to new features sooner, more dataspace, and fewer ads. Pretty similar to WordPress’s system if you think about it.

Roll20 has an additional feature on their payment system though.

The website doesn’t have the vast following that WordPress has. They don’t make enough from ad revenue to keep the site going like WordPress does.

Roll20 relies almost entirely on people paying for the extra features. Thus is the site has a little tracker saying how many subscribers it needs to “keep the lights on.”

The tracker has other levels it can go up to though. There are a total of five different levels of support on the tracker.

The first level is keeping the servers on to support all the traffic that Roll20 gets.

The second level is having occasional updates done by the developers. This isn’t enough money for Roll20 to be their fulltime job, but its enough to convince them to work on weekends.

The third level is full time work by the developers. The tracker is currently a little ways into this level.

The fourth level pays for a publicist and additional developers to come up with system specific features for Roll20.

The fifth level allows for even more developers to be hired for projects beyond just Roll20.

With the third level not yet complete, the developers are coming out with occasional updates. The new one for May is a bit ridiculous. You can check it out on their blog post here: Quantum Roll

Random number generators on computers aren’t exactly random. It’s complicated to explain, but you can trust the programmers on this one. They wouldn’t lie about a deficiency that they have.

This is frustrating for some people that use Roll20. Real dice are random, shouldn’t virtual ones be random too?

The Roll20 development team has solved that problem by hooking its dice rolling program up to data from a light beam splitter in Australia.

The light splits randomly giving random data details. Roll20 uses those numbers to decide the outcome of a die rolled on the website.

It’s so ridiculous that most of Roll20’s fans have been calling it an April Fools joke or overkill for the problem.

My opinion? It’s a pretty damn cool way to solve the problem using freely available methods. I won’t notice while playing, but I like that the developers care.

That’s all for now!

-Mister Ed

How D&D Works Part 2

These are my personal dice that I use when I play D&D.
These are my personal dice that I use when I play D&D.

The imagination aspects of D&D set it apart from most other games, but the dice do that as well.

D&D uses dice all the time to decide what happens in the game. Dice are rolled when you talk to other characters, when you try to hit something with a sword, and when you try to figure out what a magic potion does.

D&D has many different types of dice, all of which you can see here. And in case you were wondering dice is the plural. The singular of the noun is die.

The seven types are 4-sided dice, 6-sided dice, 8-sided dice, 10-sided dice, 12-sided dice, and 20-sided dice. In D&D these are abbreviated to just d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20.

When you roll a certain number of dice there’s an additional abbreviation. If you roll two 6-sided dice then you are rolling 2d6. If you’re rolling two 8-sided dice and adding 5 then you are rolling 2d8+5.

Owning and rolling the dice becomes fun for its own sake the more you play the game. The dice in the picture are just all my personal sets in a pile. I have loads more that I loan out to other people when I play with them. I keep those dice in a wooden box that looks like a d6.

When you roll the dice in D&D you’re always trying to get high numbers. The most often rolled die is the d20. The d20 is used for all of the activities I listed above and many more. It’s used when you swim, when you climb, and when you listen at a door to see what’s behind it.

When you roll a 20 on a d20, you celebrate! You rolled a natural 20 or  a critical hit (often abbreviated as a crit). A crit lets your character perform whatever task he was attempting to the best of his ability. If he was debating someone, he utterly defeats them. If he was swimming, he sets a new personal record. If he was making a cake, he bakes an amazing cake that everyone loves to eat.

Similarly, if you roll a 1 on a d20, it’s called a fumble. When you fumble, something bad happens. The most common result is that your shoelace comes untied and you trip on it.

The dice are used to resolve all but the simplest actions in the game. It’s fun for me to trudge into a dragon’s lair and not know exactly whether my character will come out alive or not. I hope he does, but victory is never assured. In our last session the dragon toasted and burned two of us!

That’s all for now.

-Mister Ed